$2.75b STEM

New images of $400m project

Mercury (Hobart) - - FRONT PAGE - SIMEON THOMAS-WIL­SON FULL RE­PORT PAGES 16-17

A STEM cen­tre in the Ho­bart CBD would add about $2.75 bil­lion to the state’s gross prod­uct over 10 years, new eco­nomic mod­el­ling shows.

As new images are re­leased of the $400 mil­lion project, right, lead­ing econ­o­mist Saul Es­lake says a STEM (Science, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing and Maths) cen­tre would trans­form Ho­bart and Tas­ma­nia in terms of both ed­u­ca­tion and the econ­omy.

It comes as the Ho­bart City Coun­cil and the Mer­cury or­gan­ise a free pub­lic fo­rum on the mat­ter.

THE Univer­sity of Tas­ma­nia’s STEM project slated for Ho­bart will add about $2.75 bil­lion to the state’s gross prod­uct over 10 years, new eco­nomic mod­el­ling shows.

As UTAS re­leased new artist ren­ders of the $400 mil­lion project, set to be lo­cated on the cor­ner of Melville and Ar­gyle streets in the CBD, re­spected econ­o­mist Saul Es­lake said the project would trans­form both Ho­bart and Tas­ma­nia.

Mr Es­lake said the STEM (Science, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing and Maths) project — which has re­ceived pri­or­ity sta­tus from In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia — would have the same ben­e­fits in Tas­ma­nia as what has oc­curred in re­gional cities in Europe and North Amer­ica.

“Eco­nomic mod­el­ling un­der­taken for the univer­sity in­di­cates that the pro­posal will cre­ate 755 jobs dur­ing con­struc­tion, and at least 190 on­go­ing aca­demic and other staff

jobs, in­crease stu­dent num­bers by around 1500 (in­clud­ing 600 in­ter­na­tional or in­ter­state stu­dents) and add around $2.75 bil­lion to Tas­ma­nia’s gross state prod­uct over 10 years,” he said.

“Ho­bart has much in com­mon with re­gional cities in Europe and North Amer­ica, where the de­vel­op­ment of ed­u­ca­tion and in­no­va­tion precincts has demon­stra­bly helped to re­vi­talise ur­ban ar­eas, cre­ate jobs, en­hance skills, fos­ter col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and in­dus­try, and ac­cel­er­ate eco­nomic growth.

“There’s no rea­son to think sim­i­lar ben­e­fits wouldn’t ac­crue to Ho­bart, and to Tas­ma­nia, from the univer­sity’s pro­posal.”

As well as be­ing sup­ported by In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia, the STEM project also will form the cen­tre­piece of the in­creas­ingly likely Ho­bart City Deal and has been ear­marked by 11 lo­cal may­ors as the No. 1 project for South­ern Tas­ma­nia due to the ed­u­ca­tional ben­e­fits it would bring.

Mr Es­lake said th­ese would quickly trans­late into eco­nomic div­i­dends for years to come. “The in­vest­ment pro- posed by the univer­sity will make a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion to im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tional par­tic­i­pa­tion and at­tain­ment, de­vel­op­ing skills, in­creas­ing em­ploy­ment and boost­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity in Tas­ma­nia,” he said.

“All of which will pay both eco­nomic and so­cial div­i­dends for years to come.”

Ho­bart Lord Mayor Sue Hickey said it was part of the coun­cil’s de­sire to see the pro­posal at the cen­tre of a Ho­bart City Deal. “The STEM project ticks so many boxes,” she said.

“While it is about higher ed­u­ca­tion out­comes for Tas­ma­ni­ans, it will also re­sult in im­proved pub­lic trans­port ac­cess to the city and im­proved con­nec­tiv­ity and mo­bil­ity through­out the city.

“It will also en­cour­age more hous­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion and I ex­pect will lead to sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment by the pri­vate sec­tor seek­ing to take ad­van­tage of the in­creased op­por­tu­ni­ties that will arise.”

Prop­erty Coun­cil of Aus­tralia ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for Tas­ma­nia Brian Wight­man re­it­er­ated calls for all lev­elsels of gov­ern­ment to work to­geth-ther to se­cure the vi­tal pro-ject.

“STEM is a de­vel­op­ment of both state and na­tional sig­nif­i­cance which re­quires the sup­port of all Tas­ma­ni­ans,” Mr Wight­man.

“The project will not only de­liver in­vest­ment foror Ho­bart, it will drive in­creasedased re­search and train­ing op­por-ppor­tu­ni­ties statewide with nodesd at In­veresk and West Park key el­e­ments of the univer­sity’s pro­posed Tas­ma­nian In­no­va­tion Net­work.”

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